Last updated on Jan 26th, 2021 at 08:43 am

Out of balance

Today, the sheer volume and diversity of technology and products designed to help us save time is unprecedented. So it is particularly ironic, that instead of living calm, leisurely lives, we’re ridiculously time-pressed and stressed.

Demands, expectations and aspirations are so extreme that keeping it all together – at home, at work and in our social circles – has never been so challenging.

The root of the problem

Counsellor and coach Natalee Holmes, who is to speak at the upcoming SACAP Festival of Learning, gets to the core of this conundrum when she says, “It is the striving for perfection that is an everyday stressor that prevents us from living balanced lives and that seems to take away the enjoyment in everything.”

So, the problem is not ‘out there’. We’re doing it to ourselves.

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Rushing through life

“We want to be perfectly on time. We want to have perfectly healthy meals. We want the perfect house and car and clothes and things to fit our lifestyles. And mostly, we want to be the perfect parent, partner, and employee or professional,” explains Natalee.

“So, we constantly rush, we work longer hours than is healthy, we live on the edge of our salaries and we overcommit ourselves in all areas of life. This means that everything is a stress, and little to no pleasure is derived from daily life. We live at too fast a pace and don’t allow ourselves the times we need to rest, rejuvenate and relish.”

Get the balance back

Natalee’s top tips for finding balance concerns these times:

  • Prioritise down time – “this is time when you can switch off, breathe, and just be. It is time when you feel rejuvenated, instead of stretched thin. It is time when you can enjoy the minutes ticking by, doing whatever gives you joy and feeds your soul.”
  • Schedule family time – “this is your fun time with the family when memories are made and the bonds that bind us as a family unit are strengthened. It can be active time, down time or even quiet time – but if it is done as a family and is making memories, this is family cementing time.”
  • Make guilt-free ‘me time’ – “this is personal time spent doing things you want to do that give you joy and feed your soul – it can be active time, quiet time, or simple relaxing time. Whatever you do in this time it needs to energise you and recharge you in some way. It should also be taken and enjoyed without a shred of guilt.”

“All of these essential times contribute to balance because they counter the stressful times,” Natalee says. “Times of relaxation and enjoyment are what we work so hard for and if we don’t get to experience them, then we are purely working and doing things that do not feed our souls or allow us to be happy. Balance cannot be felt in the absence of the times that nurture us.”

Take your time back

For many of us, modern day work is extremely demanding and time-consuming. Lots of businesses are embracing flexi-time and flexi-space, enabling us to work from all over.

“This has its up- and downside,” Natalee points out. “On one hand there’s greater flexibility to work from home or when away. The downside is that instead of people feeling like we have this technology to accommodate fitting in work hours; it is seen as fitting in more work hours into our days. Gone are the days of clocking out at 5pm, and not being disturbed by work again until morning.”

She says that for life to be balanced, we still need to separate work and home, rather than thinking of home as a second work station. “People have shifted work to a priority above all others, and that is the cause of so much stress. Family time, me time and down time need to become our priorities again.”

In a presentation packed with how to get our real priorities right, Natalee Holmes will be addressing finding balance at the SACAP Festival of Learning in Johannesburg on 18 May 2017 at the SACAP Campus, 1st Floor 160 Jan Smuts Avenue, Rosebank, Johannesburg.

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